The Future Of CRM And Why It Starts With The Customer
While becoming more “customer-centric” is a goal for most contact centers today, few look beyond basic improvements to their customer service operations to achieve it. However, by the time the customer reaches the support organization, they may have interacted with the business along several other touchpoints, including sales and marketing. To optimize internal operations and practice true customer centricity, all of these touchpoints need to be connected and measured within the context of the complete customer journey. In the future, successful companies will learn to connect these dots with the help of CRM. Below are the main ways companies today will need to transform to better serve customers in the future.
1. Sales/Marketing and Operations/Support will unify around common goals and definitions.
In previous posts we’ve explored the chasm between these two groups. In order for a business to be successful in the long term, every department needs to work together to drive a 360-degree view of the customer and serve customer needs versus those of the company and its organizational chart. Marketing and Sales need Support to speak in the language of the customer, to upsell, and to provide exceptional service that will retain the customer, strengthen loyalty, and increase referrals. Support needs to understand the campaigns that marketing is running as well as the promises sales is making so they have context for questions and requests. And, the two departments need to be in sync when it comes to communications. A customer shouldn’t have to re-introduce themselves to a support agent when they are already in its database, regardless of which department they’ve had contact with in the past. In the future, companies who continue to provide friction-filled experiences will fall behind as more customer-centric players take the lead.
In addition to unifying around the customer when it comes to the customer experience, the two departments need to work from a set of common goals and metrics. Marketing and Sales currently have quotas for customer acquisition, acquisition cost, revenue, retention, and upsell. Customer Support has its own set of goals around customer satisfaction scores, hold times, time to resolution, etc. The two departments typically never share these numbers or use them to inform each other’s operations. This disconnect leads to high-value customers receiving the same customer support as low-value customers, Customer Support missing opportunities to upsell, Marketing being unaware of the customer service metrics that end up affecting their revenue and retention numbers, and countless other issues.
2. Focus on customer retention through customer-oriented processes.
Today, too many companies communicate with customers via the methods and channels that are most convenient for them rather than in ways the customer actually wants. They explain their offerings in their own language instead of using terminology that the customer would use and understand. They switch to chat bots or an IVR system because it’s more cost-effective, not considering that it might considerably degrade the customer’s experience. They add a new department to deal with certain requests, putting the onus on the customer to route themselves appropriately or be passed around. They continue to try to reach customers via channels in which they never respond, ignoring those channels that might be preferable. For example, when companies text-enable their current phone numbers, they often find that customers have been trying to text them all along, but were effectively ignored.
In the future, the most successful companies will build and examine all aspects of their business and operations through the eyes of the customer. They’ll go through the hard work of breaking down their own siloes and ensuring that the customer can move through their journey without friction or frustration.
3. Personalization at scale using relevant data.
In the future, ideally each customer interaction will be defined by the customer’s own preferences and behaviors. Today, the tools available to most enterprises limit us somewhat from realizing this goal, but at the pace technology is advancing, it’s not far off. Consider this example: You walk into a grocery store and the retailer recognizes you via an app on your phone as you cross the threshold with your cart. Immediately your phone displays a shopping list based on your past purchase behavior, along with available coupons for the products you buy consistently and suggestions for similar products you might be interested in trying. The list is organized based on the most efficient flow for you to purchase the products throughout the store–whether you start at produce and work towards dairy or the other way around. As you put each item into your cart, it’s immediately scanned, you pay (without needing to scan the items again), and throw the items in bags, eliminating a long wait at the checkout line. When you get home, you realize that you bought expired milk. You then take a picture of the carton with the passed date and receive an immediate refund (or credit for your next milk purchase) added to your account rather than having to go back to the store and get in line for customer service. While this is a futuristic ideal, all companies should be working toward using CRM data for this type of personalization to the fullest extent possible.
4. Understanding profitable customers and how to make them advocates.
Most companies are now familiar with the Pareto principle–that a small percentage of customers (around 20% of your customer base) generates up to 80% of total revenues. Yet many companies still ignore this principle and continue to treat all customers as if they are equally important–sending them the same messaging, and spending the same amount to retain them. The most successful companies will identify and segment their best customers by lifetime value and turn the highest value customers into advocates who can attract other high-value customers with similar demographic and behavioral profiles. They will tailor their messaging and spend toward this goal and use CRM to help execute on segmentation and personalization. Conversely, they will spend less time and effort on their least profitable customer segments and target acquisition programs at higher value segments.
5. Setting the right KPIs around customer-driven processes.
For Customer Service, key KPIs in the future will likely remain CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score), NPS (Net Promoter Score) and retention rates. However, CSAT, NPS and retention rates will be heavily influenced by how well the Support team communicates with the customer via their preferred method channel, such as resolving issues via text versus phone or live chat. Doing so will drive up CSAT, NPS, and retention rates, as customers will give companies credit for knowing their preferred resolution method.
6. AI & Machine Learning are becoming commonplace in CRM.
Finally, the next wave of big data, analytics, business intelligence, artificial intelligence, and machine learning is just beginning to wash over the contact center landscape right now. While most businesses are just starting to dip their toes in these waters, these trends will underpin CRM systems moving forward and have a big impact on how Customer Service departments are structured.
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LiveVox is a next-generation contact center platform that powers more than 14 billion interactions a year. We seamlessly integrate omnichannel communications, CRM, and WFO capabilities to deliver an exceptional agent and customer experience, while reducing compliance risk. Our reliable, easy-to-use technology enables effective engagement strategies on communication channels of choice to drive performance in your contact center. Our battle-tested risk mitigation and security tools help clients maximize their potential in an ever-changing business environment. With 20 years of pure cloud expertise, LiveVox is at the forefront of cloud contact center innovation. Our more than 450 global employees are headquartered in San Francisco; with offices in Atlanta, Denver, New York City, St. Louis, Medellin, Colombia, and Bangalore, India.